Oklahoma AG petitions Supreme Court review abortion laws
Oklahoma AG petitions Supreme Court review abortion laws
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[JURIST] Oklahoma Attorney General E Scott Pruitt [official profile] on Tuesday filed a petition [text, PDF; press release] asking the US Supreme Court [official website] to review a decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court [official website] which struck down two state laws limiting abortion rights for physicians and patients. In December the Oklahoma Supreme Court held HB 2780 and HB 1970 [opinions] to be unconstitutional [JURIST report], finding that the laws infringed upon women’s constitutional reproductive rights and interfered with doctor’s abilities to provide safe and efficacious treatment to patients, including prescribing an “off-label” use of drugs known to have abortion-inducing effects. In his petition, Pruitt attacked the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s interpretation of the US Supreme Court’s precedents in abortion cases. Pruitt wrote:

Casey reaffirmed the central holding in Roe v. Wade … that a woman has a right to an abortion “before viability … without undue interference from the State,” but it also re-affirmed states’ “legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child.” … Properly interpreted, then, Casey dictates the opposite result reached in the decision below: laws like Oklahoma’s medical abortion regulation are permissible. … By failing to conduct the analysis Casey requires the Oklahoma Supreme Court perverted part of the “essential holding” of Roe.

Pruitt also asserted that the Oklahoma laws did not ban the use of abortion inducing drugs, but merely ensured proper procedures for their use would be followed.

Oklahoma has been at the center of controversy recently regarding reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder]. The Oklahoma law restricting the use of abortion-inducing drugs was scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2011, but was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in October. In April 2011 Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law [JURIST report] a bill prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks. The law allows abortions past the 20-week mark only in certain extenuating circumstances where the mother faces death or serious injury. A doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the time limit would be subject to criminal prosecution for a felony, but the woman undergoing the procedure would not face a penalty. Last year an Oklahoma state judge extended a temporary injunction [JURIST report] blocking enforcement of HB 2780.